"This is one of the most exciting missions we have ever flown in the solar system, by far the most complex."

Lucid Dreams

The European Space Agency has successfully launched an exciting new deep space mission to visit Jupiter's icy moons, which are considered to be some of the best places to search for extraterrestrial life in our entire solar system.

The Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, or JUICE for short, launched from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana Friday morning, aboard an ESA Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket.

The launch has been a resounding success so far, with the ESA confirming the deployment of JUICE's solar array soon afterward.

"We are on the way to Jupiter and its ocean worlds!" the mission's official Twitter account wrote. "With the critical milestone of solar array deployment completed, we have a mission!"

Icy Moons

There are dozens of moons orbiting Jupiter, the largest planet orbiting the Sun. Some of them are pretty huge and, according to scientists, may feature massive subsurface oceans that could potentially harbor life beneath a thick, protective layer of ice.

The JUICE mission will be doing flybys of three of Jupiter's most fascinating moons — Callisto, Europa, and Ganymede — while collecting data with a variety of scientific instruments.

Epic Journey

We'll have to be patient, however, until JUICE reaches its final destination. Its epic journey will take over eight long years, including several gravitational assist swings around Venus, Mars, and Earth. Once in the vicinity of Jupiter, the spacecraft will make a total of 35 planned flybys, probing the three moons' oceans for more data.

The ESA is hoping to get within just a couple of hundred miles of the surface of these moons, giving them the most detailed look yet.

"This is one of the most exciting missions we have ever flown in the solar system, by far the most complex," Josef Aschbacher, the head of ESA, told the New York Times.

But if everything goes according to plan, it might have the best shot yet at discovering the first extraterrestrial signs of life.

"For habitability, you need liquid water, a heat source, and organic materials," Michele Dougherty, principal investigator of one of the spacecraft's instruments, told the NYT. "If we confirm or deny those three things, we’ve done what we said we were going to do."

More on the mission: NASA's Hubble Finds Evidence of Water Vapor on One

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